This countdown series certainly took a different turn from my other competition countdown series. Although, it isn’t the first one in which I ended up not competing. That’s part of the fun of blogging about my journey as it happens instead of telling a story that’s already over; not even I know what’s going to happen next!
After a couple of very stressful weeks, this past one brought some positive news for once. I was making different efforts to move my knee recovery along. I started taking turmeric supplements. Since going up the stairs to my apartment hurt my knees more than going down, I started taking the elevator up every day even if my knees felt ok in the moment. I spent my last couple weekend solo practices at home mapping out the timing and steps of my routines instead of actual dancing in the studio.
One or all efforts seem to be working! I was unsure because my knees were talking more (i.e., cracking and popping) and while they weren’t hurting so much, they would still get tight and feel unstable. My physical therapist was very pleased though. She said she felt a lot less fluid in the knees and we were finally getting most of the scar tissue and knots cleared out of the muscles around them. We had held off on any PT exercises for a few weeks to focus on reducing the inflammation, and she concluded it was time to bring them back.
The next test came in my dance lesson on Wednesday. I still had knee pain with the side and forward lunges in the Tango we were working on, but it didn’t last and I didn’t feel any significant swelling by the time the lesson was over. The funny thing is my hips were actually more sore than my knees this week, probably from bringing back the PT exercises and my therapist having to fix the alignment of my left hip (separate problem).
Teacher had to cancel our Friday lesson, but I had the opportunity to practice with another student instead! Doing an hour of actual dancing instead of bits of dancing mixed in with discussion worked my knees a lot more, so they were sore, but still, not as bad on the pain scale as in the past. I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ve turned another corner. Very cautiously since I’ve thought this way before and then hit a major setback. So we’ll just take this one day at a time!
The Open routines are continuing to develop. We’ve focused on Waltz and Tango as those are the two I’ve mapped out on paper so far. It seems ironic that I’m a writer, but I really don’t like writing out my routines. I much prefer to study my dancing via video. Still, it’s been a good challenging exercise, even as I sigh heavily through it. It’s also exposed how poorly I know some of the names of the syllabus steps. Another irony – vocabulary has never been my strong suit.
I had a moment in my Wednesday lesson when we were trying something different in a section of the Tango. My arm started to style by itself, but I quickly stopped it and apologized for not knowing what I was doing. Teacher protested, saying it was good and fit the movement.
This moment came back to me while I was watching an IGTV post by Jo Jo Diggs. At one point, she says you have to trust yourself to do what you love. It struck me how long my list of to-dos was that I thought I needed to complete in order to be able to do what I love (ballroom dance). I had my day-to-day responsibilities and obligations. I had to study and practice my dances. I had to make enough money to pay for everything.
Nowhere on the list was “trust myself.”
That was all I needed in that Tango moment. If I had just trusted myself to style my arm the way the dancer inside me wanted to style it, it would have been a great, spontaneously creative moment. Instead, I squashed it and apologized for my behavior.
Another moment in that lesson highlighted my lack of self-trust. There was mention of another student who would be ready to compete in Open A Smooth next year (A being the age group). Even though I turned 36 this year, I’ve decided to continue competing in the A age group. So if Teacher has two of us, we’ll just need to coordinate who competes at which event. When I heard this news though, I felt threatened, like I was going to be replaced. I immediately assumed she was prettier, stronger, more flexible, and just overall more talented than I was, and somehow that meant I was done for.
Of course, this reaction had nothing to do with reality or this other dancer I’ve never met. It had everything to do with me not trusting myself to do what I love, which was causing me to look for external validation and fall into the comparison trap.
Jo Jo’s message was timely and it helped me quickly check myself and refocus on my own journey. It’s nice to observe that even as I continue to falter and catch myself comparing my journey to others, each time, I’m able to recover and refocus more quickly. That’s the point of all this right? Each attempt is a little better than the one before. Bit by bit, we improve and grow.
I’ve written about trust, both of others and yourself, a LOT on this blog because it is such a key companion on this adventure. Self-trust is especially important. Without it, we play small, we hold back and frankly, we don’t enjoy the experience as much as we could have.
So for everyone prepping for Desert Classic this coming week, take a deep breath, look in the mirror, and say, “I trust you!”
You’re not alone. Your teacher will be there with you. Your dance friends will be there with you. I will be there cheering you on! Even the judges want you to just go for it because they know how much more fun it is to dance when you fully trust yourself.
Trust yourself to do what you love.
P.S. – I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind you that if you are going to be at Desert and would like a copy of The Solo Practice Guide for Ballroom Dancing, let me know ASAP. I’ll have a few copies with me, but two are already spoken for. So tell me now if you want to reserve a copy for yourself or a friend.
Happy dancing everyone!